What Does Aristotle Identify as the Ultimate Human Good? Why Does He Select That Condition?

1807 words 8 pages
In the quest to find out what is the ultimate human good, Aristotle dedicated Book 1 of the Nicomachean Ethics to provide an account of what is the ultimate human good, and what it consists of. This essay will examine why Aristotle thinks that eudaimonia (happiness), is the ultimate human good. Through this discussion, we will see Aristotle suggest four central views which are critical to eudaimonia being the ultimate human good. Firstly, one has to live a life according to one’s function. Secondly, natural, virtuous activity is required in order to live a life of happiness. Thirdly, one requires possessing external goods such as wealth, power and friends in order to be happy. Last but not least, in order to live a life of happiness, one …show more content…

Therefore, the human good, which is commonly known as happiness, is essentially to fulfill the human function excellently. If the human function is a life of reason, then to fulfill that function excellently is to acquire the virtue of reason.
Aristotle continues to discuss that happiness requires virtuous activity (Ross, Book 1, chap. 8). “For the state of mind may exist without producing any good result, as in a man who is asleep or in some other way quite inactive, but the activity cannot; for one who has the activity will of necessity be acting, and acting well (Ross, Book 1, chap 8).” Aristotle presents that happiness is a natural consequence of acting in accordance with virtue, for such activity causes pleasure without causing any harm (Ross, Book 1, chap. 8). With the ability to gain pleasure through from virtuous acts, the person will not need any external pleasure to make him/her happy (Ross, Book 1, chap. 8). Therefore a man whom does not gain pleasure from virtuous acts will never be happy; regardless of the acts he may perform (Ross, Book 1, chap. 8).
Then again, Aristotle makes it clear that in order to be happy one must possess others goods as well—such goods as friends, wealth, and power (Ross, Book 1, chap 8). And one's happiness is endangered if one is severely lacking in certain advantages—if, for example, one is extremely ugly, or has lost children or good friends


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